A few weeks ago, I posted that I had burned up a lot of creative energy in June and July with pushing hard to finish and revise Novel No. 5. I can now confirm that I discovered myself to have burned through not only my readily-available creative energy stores, but the reserves as well, resulting in creative brain burnout.

J. W. Judge Creative Brain Burnout and Recovery

Contributions to Creative Burnout

A couple of factors contributed to the burnout I began experiencing. Work has been extraordinarily busy since may, a trend that looks like it will continue for another few months.

In mid-July, I began querying Novel No. 5 to literary agents. As with most things I do, I researched many agents before deciding to whom I wanted to query. Over the last month, I have continued to add to the list and submit the novel to more agencies as I find good fits. The querying process isn’t something I’ve enjoyed. To do it effectively — and maybe that’s not the correct word since there are no guarantees of any eventual success — it takes a lot of time. So much time. Time that I would rather be spending doing other things … like writing Novel No. 6. But there was a problem with that too.

By the time August rolled around, I found it difficult to decide which project to write next. I had two in mind. I had written the first couple of chapters of each, and since I couldn’t reach any sort of conclusion, I sent them to my Alpha Reader to provide some guidance. She told me her preference, and that’s what I’ve gone with for Novel No. 6.

Equal Parts Writing and Not Writing

Even then, though, I had a tough time finding my writing energy. I got up at the same early hour and sat in the same spot I always do, but the creativity necessary to write wasn’t there. For the first time this year, August has seen nearly as many days of me not writing as the contrary. Here’s what that has looked like:

  • 8/1-5: 0 words
  • 8/6: 383 words, writing my early August update for this site
  • 8/7-9: 819 words in Chapter 2 of Novel No. 6
  • 8/10: 0 words
  • 8/11-13: 1372 words in Chapters 2 & 3 of Novel No. 6
  • 8/14-16: 0 words
  • 8/17-20: 2101 words in Chapters 3-5 of Novel No. 6

You can pretty clearly see that I’ve been making progress in an ongoing series of starts and stops. Even writing this is a form of procrastination, because I don’t have the mental energy to fully immerse myself in my novel yet.

Recognizing that, I’m trying to give myself time to recover while still feeling productive so that once work slows down and the brain drain passes, I will restocked my reserves of creative energy and be prepared to write Novel No. 6.

Recent Episodes of The Write Approach

Here are some episodes of my podcast, The Write Approach, that we’ve put out in the last few weeks. Each of these is on your preferred podcast app and on our YouTube channel.